The new chair of the Calgary public school board says she regrets signing an agreement that states trustees will not speak to the media.
Sheila Taylor said a Calgary Board of Education lawyer asked board members to sign the document on Oct. 25 — their first day of orientation.
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Taylor was very vocal as a trustee on the last board, arguing for a more transparent budget and for holding fewer meetings behind closed doors.
But she said she felt intimidated and agreed to sign the "gag" document in a spirit of co-operation.
“You don’t want to be the one that's standing out. And for me — someone who's always been the one that has stood out — I guess on that day I didn't want to start my term that way,” she said.
“And I do regret it, because I think that this type of document that restricts speech is wrong.”
Taylor has now removed her name from the agreement and is urging other trustees to do the same if they feel uncomfortable about it.
She said she will continue to speak to the public and reporters about what's going on at the CBE.
'Doesn't make a lot of sense'
"It just doesn't make a lot of sense," said Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams.
"To suggest that they aren't going to speak to the media at all and then to make a formal agreement about that undermines the whole idea of transparency and accountability, which is one of the issue that we saw come up in the last election."
Other trustees on the board have not granted interviews, but some have responded to interview requests from CBC News by email.
"I am disappointed that this is news and not a conversation that could have occurred among members of the board," said Pamela King, trustee in wards 5 and 10.
Newly-elected trustee Trina Hurdman, who represents wards 6 and 7, said she does not want to further damage relationships among members of the board.
"We will be working together for the next four years and there is important work to be done," she said.
However, she did apologize to her constituents on Facebook.
"I apologize to my constituents for originally signing this document," said Hurdman.
"It was presented to trustees on the first day that we met together after the election, and I did not want to start our first day off with confrontation. I felt pressured to sign it, but that is no excuse, and I regretted it immediately.... I have already removed my name from the document."